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Council Approvals Guide

Steps to seeking approval for your new steel building

The entire council approvals process can be daunting and confusing—especially if this is your first time building a shed.

Do you need approval at all? How do you go about getting approval?
What are the main things you’ll need, and in what order?

To try and help the approvals process run smoother, we’ve put together a guide that outlines what you need to know, step-by-step, to streamline the council approvals process for your new TechSpan steel building.

The approvals process runs hand in hand with the design process. The building design is impacted by the Building code of Australia and local council criteria, and the council approval pathway is dependent on building design. 

The first thing you will need to determine is what class your new building will fall under. This will affect the approval pathway you follow and the documentation you will require.

Building Classes

There are ten building classes set out in the Building Code of Australia that each structure is categorised into. TechSpan buildings typically fall into one of the four classes outlined below.

To see the full list of all building classes, check out our building classes overview.

Class 7b — Storage Buildings

A building which is for storage or display of goods or produce for sale by wholesale.

Examples of TechSpan buildings that would fall into this category are showrooms and warehouses.

Class 8 — Processing & Factory Buildings

A laboratory or a building in which a handicraft or process for the production, assembling, altering, repairing, packing, finishing or cleaning of goods or produce is carried on for trade, sale or gain.

Examples of TechSpan buildings that would fall into this category are factory, packing, product, manufacturing and workshop sheds.

Class 9b — Assembly Buildings

An assembly building, including a trade workshop, laboratory, or the like, in a primary or secondary school, but excluding any other parts of the building that are of another class.

An example of TechSpan buildings that would fall into this category is school COLAs.

Class 10a — Carports & Sheds

A private garage, carport, shed or the like.

Examples of TechSpan buildings that would fall into this category are multipurpose farm sheds and private machinery sheds.

Planning Approval Pathways

As different projects will require different approval pathways before you get started down any particular pathway, it’s best to have the proposed building reviewed. This will ensure you’re heading down the right track. TechSpan is able to offer a review to determine the best approval pathway for your new TechSpan building. You can contact our expert team for more information.

Once you have determined the building class which applies to the structure you’re planning, you need to determine the appropriate approval pathway that you will need to follow. These are the different ways that you can apply for approval to construct your project either through a private town planner and certifier or directly with your local council.

The three different approval pathways that may apply to TechSpan buildings are: 
Exempt Developments, Complying Developments (CDC), and buildings that require Development Approval (DA). 

(This information is specific to the planning approval pathways in NSW. Other states will vary slightly in the naming of the different pathways and some of the processes & requirements.)

Exempt Developments

Exempt developments cover minor, low impact developments that are built on rural properties. If your building meets specific development standards, any further planning or building approval is not needed. This means any construction that does not require a full assessment by the council can be done faster, and with lower costs.

Exempt development standards apply to many farm sheds and buildings less than 200m2.

Complying Developments

A Complying Development Certificate (CDC) combines planning and construction approval into one fast-tracked process that does not require a development application to your local council. Many commercial and industrial developments are eligible for this pathway, as long as the development complies with the Building Code of Australia and any local criteria.

Documentation You Will Need:

If you’re new TechSpan building is eligible for a CDC, you will need to provide the following to your certifier:

  • Architectural design
  • Geotech & Survey
  • Engineering design for the civil and structural works
  • Plans for Stormwater retention and runoff
  • Carparking and traffic flow studies
  • Landscaping plans
  • Fire escape and retention plans
  • BCA Section J6 Certificate
  • Section 68 Approval Certificate for local council

Sometimes, depending on the zoning and specific local council requirements additional documentation may also be required.

Development Approval

A Development Application (DA) is required for more complex projects and where the development needs to be assessed under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. You will need to compile and submit standard application forms, supporting technical documents and plans to your local council for assessment.

The NSW government and local council requirements for a DA are comprehensive and complex. TechSpan can assist you in preparing and submitting all the information to the council, and help avoid delays.

Prior to lodging a development application (DA) with your local council, you will need to carefully review any planning policies that apply to your land, in order to prepare your plans and supporting documentation. To see what local environmental planning constraints, applicable planning policies and permissible uses apply to your land or property, you can use the New South Wales Government Planning Portal.

If your application is approved, a schedule of conditions will be issued with the notice of determination. The development consent is structured to assist in the project management of the development and these conditions must be complied with. The conditions should be read in conjunction with the stamped approved plans.

Documentation You Will Likely Need:

If you’re new TechSpan building requires DA and a construction certificate, you will need to provide the following to your local council (or the private certifier assisting you):

Development Application (DA)

  • Architectural design plans:
    • Site plan
    • Roof plan
    • Floor plan
    • Elevations
    • Building sections
    • Erosion Sedimentation
    • Window & Door Schedule
  • Geotech & Survey
  • Landscaping plans
  • Statement of Environmental Effect (SEE)
  • Wildlife Impact studies
  • Development budgets

Construction Certificate

  • Engineering design for the civil and structural works
  • Plans for Stormwater retention and runoff
  • Fire escape and retention plans
  • Section J Reports
  • Waste Management Statement
  • Section 68 Approval Certificate for local council

Sometimes, depending on the zoning and specific local council requirements additional documentation may also be required.

What is the Development Application Process?

Where a Development Application (DA) is required, the usual steps are:

  1. Site Analysis & Constraints: Techspan can assist in undertaking appropriate site analysis and assessments to understand any site constraints, such as flooding, bushfire risk or soil/slope constraints.
  2. Plans/Drawings: Creating appropriate plans/drawings for your development proposal which accommodate all site constraints, as best as practical, is the next step in the process.
  3. Review & Endorsement: Once plans are complete, your town planner will organise the appropriate review and endorsement from government authorities, such as the Water Authority, as this is usually required prior to the lodgement of your DA.
  4. Preparation for lodging: At the same time your plans are being endorsed by other authorities, your town planner prepares the application in readiness for lodging with Council. This would normally include the preparation of a Statement of Environmental Effects (SoEE) to support your development, which addresses the potential impacts your development may have on the environment and surrounding neighbours.
  5. Application Lodged: your town planner will regularly communicate with Council to track the progress of the application, in an effort to ensure Council has sufficient information to allow a timely assessment. Your town planner will update clients regularly throughout this process.
  6. Additional Information (if required): Should Council require any additional information throughout the assessment process, your town planner will liaise with you to provide a rapid response and solution to Council’s request.
  7. Approval: Once the DA is approved by Council, no works can commence until a Construction Certificate is obtained.

Is my development guaranteed to be approved?

No. There is no guarantee that Council will issue a Development Consent once an application is lodged. Prior to an application being lodged with the council, and based on our experience and knowledge of Council and their individual planning controls, we will discuss with you if we feel that the proposal is outside of Council’s requirements. We can discuss any alternative options you have.

What if the council doesn’t like what I am proposing in my application?

Council will normally advise in writing if they are not completely satisfied with what is being proposed. This gives you a chance to either make changes to the proposal or talk to an Assessing Officer about how to make the proposal work. If the Assessing officer feels that the amendments being requested are not consistent with Council’s planning controls, this can be negotiated with the Assessing Officer.

What is a Construction Certificate?

Once development consent is granted, a Construction Certificate is required to be obtained prior to the commencement of building works. This can be issued after plans and specifications of the proposed works have been assessed to comply with the Building Code of Australia and conditions of the development consent have been satisfied.

Are inspections mandatory?

Yes. The Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation (EP&A Reg) sets out the number of mandatory inspections for all types of buildings.

The Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) must advise the owner what inspections are required to be carried out by the PCA. Where an inspection by a third party, such as an engineer, is required, the PCA will request written confirmation in the form of a report or certificate to verify that the inspection was carried out and that work satisfies any applicable standards.

Approval Documentation Requirements Overview

Documentation RequiredExempt DevelopmentComplying DevelopmentDevelopment Application
Architectural Design
Geotech & Survey
Engineering Design
Stormwater Retention & Runoff Plans
Carparking and traffic flow studies
Landscaping plans
Fire escape and retention plans
BCA Section J6 Certificate
Section 68 Approval Certificate for local council
Statement of Environmental Effect (SEE)
Wildlife Impact studies
Development budgets
Section J Reports
Waste Management Statement

We’re Here to Help

While the process sounds long and complicated (and in some circumstances, it can be) TechSpan have experience in dealing with local council approvals throughout NSW and will assist where possible throughout the process. We can connect you with the right consultants [link to consultant article] at the right stage of your project.

If you’d like more information about TechSpan’s rates to undertake various components of the council approvals process, our expert team is here to help!

Need more information?

Get in touch with the TechSpan team to book your FREE design consultation.


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